A thought about translations

A couple of weeks ago I spent a weekend in a rented cottage in Putten. The main reason for heading there was the annual beach pull, a bunch of tuned tractors pulling too much weight. All in all it was a very nice weekend.

When we were at the reception I saw the Dutch and German brochure laying side-by-side, this gave me an interesting thought about translations.

(Click on images to magnify. Source: Landal GreenParks)

This is the same brochure, from the same company, made in the same year, selling the same cottages. Yet, they are not the same at all.

To pick a detail: In the Dutch book, this is the order of the countries to visit: The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech republic and Hungary. If we compare these to the German ordering: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech republic, Hungary, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The reason for this is probably obvious: people from Germany are most likely to go on holiday in their own country, so why not highlight that a bit more. It makes me wonder why there are so many people from Germany in the Netherlands each summer, though ;-).

So: Translation is not only about translating. Cultural differences can be involved as well.

Is it worth spending this amount of times on translations?

Achieving this level of detail in your translations takes time. It’s easy to see why they chose to do a little bit extra here: it’s the front of the brochure, based on it some people will take it home, and some others will leave it there. So in this case it was probably worth it.

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